As if my trip to LA last month was not fun filled enough, we also got to sit down and talk with some of the real life moms from ABC Family. Laura Leighton and Holly Marie Combs from Pretty Little Liars and Constance Marie and Marlee Matlin from Switched at Birth sat down with us during a special cocktail hour to talk about their experience being moms.
Meet the Moms from Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth
Laura Leighton – Ashely Marin on Pretty Little Liars
How old are your kids?
My kids are 22, 21, almost 14 and 9. I have done a little bit of everything. I have survived teenagers and I am preparing for more.
How has Pretty Little Liars affected your real life?
The first time that my older daughter had her reality and entertainment mix was in college. She discovered Pretty Little Liars when she first went away to college. My kids never really cared what their parents did for a living, my husband and I are both actors, we are first and foremost parents. Anyways, My daughter leaves for college and the kids got together in someones room to watch Pretty Little Liars. Afterwards she told me, “I am so weirded out, I am hooked on the show and you are in it.” That has been the most interesting perspective, to see it through my daughters eyes. They are audience members and my real life daughters. It is interesting to talk to them about it.
My daughter also told me that there were times watching the show in college that she would see a scene were I am playing Hanna’s mom and was comforting her or something, and it actually made her cry. My daughter told me, “I miss you or something, or I was jealous. I do not know, it was weird.” It was the first time we ever had that. That is how the show affected my real life in a way I never expected.
Do you find yourself mothering the girls on the show?
They are in their 20’s and that is an age that no one wants to be mothered. They are lovely girls and they are finding themselves in a way that I can relate with. I was in a series when I was their age so I sometimes see myself at that time and think they are having a little bit of a parallel experience, 20 years later. I admire them all so much especially how social media has really changed the business . I admire them, and enjoy them all very much.
How do you juggle everything, being a mom, a wife and working?
Being a mom on ABC Family is the perfect thing. The parents are not around that much (on the shows), so I do not have to be at work everyday. The young girls work all the time, and crazy hours. The parents come in a couple of days a week, and its the perfect. Right now I am really lucky. I am able to juggle and not be overwhelmed by it. I am completely blessed.
Holly Marie Combs – Ella Montgomery on Pretty Little Liars
Holly came over and joined in on our conversation too!
Holly- I was working the other week for three days in a row and it almost killed me (laughs). I was like, I do not know how I did this before. It is definitely easier when you are younger, because there are no kids walking into your room in the middle of the night to wake you up . (She has 3 young boys) But during the 5th season of Charmed, I had my first son and was pregnant with my 2nd son during the last season. With one child, I was able to bring him to work, and it was not such a big deal. But then when they went to school and were in sports, and had their own lives, it became very difficult for me to be away working. This job for me is more doable at this point. We both get those moments when people complain that we are not on it enough, but at the same time we think it works perfectly. We both love to work, and love being on a show that is so successful. I could not imagine going back to that schedule right now.
Laura – It is the perfect job for us, since we just work a couple of days a week.
Holly- A lot of tv shows now are going out of town to places like Chicago or Atlanta. My 3 kids are all now officially in school. My youngest is going into Kindergarten, and there is no way I could take a job out of town right now.
Laura- We do feel really lucky that Pretty Little Liars does shoot in town.
Tune in to Pretty Little Liars on Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET/PT on ABC Family!
Official ABC Family “Pretty Little Liars” website: www.abcfamily.com/prettylittleliars
Constance Marie and Marlee Matlin – Regina Vasquez and Melody Bledsoe from Switched at Birth
What advice do you have for moms?
Constance- As a mom, you have to write everything down. It is impossible to remember everything. When you are a mom, you have to think like this (and she snapped her fingers) because you are going in ten different directions at the same time. So just write everything down, and sleep if you can, because there is never enough sleep.
Marlee- The best advice I have for you is to just be def. (We all started laughing)
Constance told her. It doesn’t work for you either.
Constance- I have one that is five and she wants my attention constantly. Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy.
Marlee- My kids are 18, 14, 12, and 10. My 18 year old is going to college next month, and I am extremely excited. (We all laughed) Everybody says I am going to cry, but we will see what happens. Maybe I am in denial, I do not know. Really I want her to go off and have a good time. But, I worry because I know her. She is a great girl, everyone loves her, she is a people person, but at the same time I still see her as a cute little 2 year old. I always tell her to try to utilizes your common sense as best as you can. She says, “I know mom. I know, I know.” No you don’t, don’t give me that. Just remember mom wants you to exercise your common sense. So I am a little worried about that.
Constance- It is the same message from 5 to college. Protect your body, protect yourself, be smart, pick nice friends, the same thing. Just different.
Marlee- You have more control when they are little. You can at least exercise some measure of control, but at the same time you want to give them some independence. You want to give them to experience everything that is out there. But at the same time, when they go to college, you have no idea what they are going to be doing. No idea.
Constance- Somebody once said to me, describing motherhood is like having somebody pull your heart out from your body and walking around outside in the world all by itself no matter how old it is, or how little it is.
I told her she was making me cry, because it is so true.
Constance- It’s amazing.
Marlee- Teach your kids to give a good first impression with a good strong handshake. All of my kids friends that come to the door, without fail, always have sweaty hands. The reason is because my kids know the rule about handshakes, that you have to give a good, strong, firm handshake. My reputation around Hollywood is that I have one of the strongest handshakes in Hollywood. I mean, Star Magazine said so, so it must be true. (We all laughed) My kids learned right away that they should make a good first impression. So they always tell their friends who have never met me, please make sure you give my mom a firm handshake. They usually come up to me very nervous and try their best, but their hands are always so sweaty. (We all laughed, again.)
Constance- I always tell my daughter in Spanish, because she is 5 and her attention is crazy, when she says “Thank you” to people, no you need to look at them. I will tell her no, ojos. Look at them in the eyes and say thank you. You need to connect with everybody. I am sure I will be saying that to her for a long time. It is respect and also focusing your attention on what you are doing.
What is your best parenting advice?
Marlee- All I can say is that no parent is perfect. That is the best advice I can give you. Never put yourself in that situation where you think you are perfect. And that every child is different, and each child has their own unique needs. You have to make compromises, you have to do balancing acts. The best you can do is listen to them and have an open mind.
I do not know how many times I heard my daughter say, “I’m 18 I can do what I want to do.” I tell her, I am going to be 49, and whatever you are going through, I’m going to go through with you because I have been there. At the end of the day, you still have to listen to me. I was 18 once. They seem to forget that you were that age as well. They just look at you like you are some alien.
Constance- But you’re so old. (We all laughed)
Tune in to Switched at Birth on Mondays at 8:00pm ET/PT on ABC Family.
Official ABC Family “Switched at Birth” website: www.abcfamily.com/switchedatbirth
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ABCFsab #SwitchedatBirth